Civil justice watch dog group says lawyers playing into hype to create business

Posted Thursday, August 1, 2002 4:59 AM | Contributed by superellen

Personal injury lawyers are attempting to create a "cottage industry" by linking brain injuries to thrill rides at amusement parks, said the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA). ATRA cited statistics by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that showed more people were injured in 2000 using trampolines, golf equipment and bicycles than were injured on or in amusement rides of all types.

Read more from Cybercast News Service.

Thursday, August 1, 2002 6:12 AM

As a lawyer, I can say that law doesn't operate in a vacuum- for every sleazy lawyer, there's a greedy plaintiff and a jury or judge who's willing to award ridiculous amounts of money. In other words, law = society, folks! Don't bash lawyers until you look at yourself.

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 6:43 AM
Jeff's avatar

I don't think that anyone is suggesting that lawyers are universally bad.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"Let's stop saying 'don't quote me,' because if no one quotes you, you probably haven't said a thing worth saying." - Dogma, KMFDM

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 7:11 AM

Hmmm, I wonder if coasters are the latest victim of the prevalence of "no win, no fee" schemes. I think there is a valid argument in the assertion that this kind of practice is very conducive to spurious opportunisitic claims.

The point that there is no supply without demand is well taken though: it is up to both sides to behave responsibly. To paraphrase Ronald Regan: "we should love the themeparks more and sue them less!".

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 7:12 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Fox News in Philadelphia did a 5 minute segment on roller coasters and health effects last night. It was actually the first even sided story on the subject I've seen.

They set up the story then talked to an area woman who claimed to have suffered brain injuries on a Disney coaster (they didn't say which one). They also talked to a neuroscientist who said there is no basis in fact for the claims. They mentioned the proposed "G Force" law New Jersey wants passed and again, the neuroscientist disagreed saying that G-Forces don't cause injury. Plus they had a bunch of great coaster footage from Dorney and SFGAdv.

I have it encoded to a .wmv file but don't have enough space on my ISP to post it - I really wish I could, it was a good segment. We just need more guys like the neuroscientist in their story to come out and speak the truth.

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www.coasterimage.com
Dorney Park visits in 2002: 15

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 7:35 AM
In a Nut-Shell, and IMO: Greedy people who need to place blame that are backed by an attorney who knows how to play on the studpidty of the average juror and the moron judges who allow this crap to continue. And thats all I have to say about that. *** This post was edited by Winston on 8/1/2002. ***
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Thursday, August 1, 2002 9:40 AM
Lord Gaunchar, brain injury on a Disney coaster? LMAO! What do they pull, about 1.5gs? These people are crazy. If they are so worried about riding coasters and getting brain damage why don't they not just ride them?

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"This time I think ... I think it's ... it's going to work!" - Dr.Bruce Banner

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 10:05 AM

"Industry data, according to ATRA, showed that around 99 percent of those who board amusement rides and attractions enjoy their experience without any incident whatsoever."

I really don't know what the above means, (other than like I've said before that too many media stories are poorly written) but if 1% of the riders were injured then all the parks SHOULD close down. When dealing with large numbers, a 99% solution ain't gonna cut it in many cases.

The real number, fortunately, is orders of magnitude lower.

(Another pet peeve of mine is when the media report, breathlessly, something about "...1800 pounds of pressure.." Or other such mismatched units--pounds is a force, not pressure. How can I trust them on things I don't know, when on stories about topics I do know they make so many errors?)

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 10:11 AM

Yeah. 99% of people who ride enjoy it. the other .999999% are enthusiasts

"that was running better last week"

"@#$%^&*( OTSR"

"I with they'd put floorless trains on this"

"Ron toomer just shat that one out, didn't he"

etc

Any other industry having a 99% ENJOYMENT rate would be estatic. Imagine if 99 out of 100 people who went to see, say, "The Country Bears" could walk out saying they enjoyed it.

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 11:00 AM

I suppose enjoyment rate is one way to read it.

But why the ATRA would cite an enjoyment rate to bolster their claim that they're safe makes no sense at all.

It also says "...99%...enjoy their experience without any incident whatsoever." A big part of the 1% left could have also enjoyed it, but had some minor incident like the above enthusiasts. Again, this has nothing to do with injuries, which is the topic at hand.

(Picky details, I know. Can you tell I'm an engineer?)

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 12:04 PM

I wouldn't take that 99% thing too seriously. I remember reading one the articles about Markey and his battle with the Amusement Park Association and I figured the percentage of serious injuries to number of total rides. I forget the number but there were about 6 or 7 zeros after the decimal point...a very small percentage. I am just getting tired of hearing about all of this. Hopefully it will blow over.

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 12:22 PM

you go comatose, here;s another one

"WHAT!? only two trains!"

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All at once the ghosts come back reeling you in now.

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 12:47 PM
This just in: the sky is blue!
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Thursday, August 1, 2002 1:27 PM

Well, not all Disney coasters are tame. Cal Screamin isn't the Hulk, but it certainly isn't Space Mountain either.

But the one I believe to which they are referring is Rock 'N Roller Coaster, which is actually a pretty powerful son-of-a-gun. In the dark (though not as dark as you'd think) everything is accentuated.

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 1:48 PM
The 1% could also be people who suffer headaches, naesea (sp?), and minor wounds on their ears and legs on things such as OTSRs and slides.
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Thursday, August 1, 2002 4:51 PM

If you believe the CPSC numbers, (and there is good reason to not believe them) one amusement park visitor in 32,000 is injured seriously enough on a ride to go to the emeregency room. That's .003%,

Other things to consider in these numbers. 1) The CPSC doesn't do a very good job of separating non ride injuries at parks from ride injuries. 2) As parks become more and more frightened of lawyers, they will encourage guests with the slightest injuries to go to the emergency room just to document that the injuries are slight.

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Thursday, August 1, 2002 6:20 PM
Jeff's avatar

Agreed. If that number were true, that means at least one guest from Cedar Point, Magic Mountain, Great Adventure or Great America would go to the ER every day, and we know that's not what happens.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"Let's stop saying 'don't quote me,' because if no one quotes you, you probably haven't said a thing worth saying." - Dogma, KMFDM

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Friday, August 2, 2002 4:56 AM
Even if you use official injury reports (remember, the CPSC numbers are statistical extrapolations based on the NEISS survey data) you can't necessarily trust the numbers. saferparks.org now has a database on-line which includes several years of reporting data from several states, but it's kind of hard to make a whole lot of sense of the data because New Jersey's reporting threshhold is set so low (basically, if you suffer any discomfort on the ride in New Jersey, including motion sickness, it is a reportable injury) while Ohio's is set pretty high (you almost have to break a bone for it to be reportable).

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Friday, August 2, 2002 6:12 AM

And the CPSC's numbers are based on the action taken, not the severity of the injury. If 2 coasters bump, and the park sends all of the riders to the emergency room as a precaution just to get checked out; that might be 50 emergeny room visits even though no significant injury occurred. And if the park that did this sent those people to one of the hospitals in the CPSC's data sample, the CPSC would add 5000 injuries to their estimated number of amusement ride injuries. (That's not a wise crack, that's how they actually do it.)

One thing I have noticed in the injury statistics at Saferparks, injuries are most common on rides where the rider has the most control. The gasoline powered antique cars result in far more injuries than rollercoasters due to rider control. (There is a good reason for those "no bumping" signs.) However, the antique cars very rarely result in serious injuries because of the low speeds.

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